Are you egocentric?

by Ron Potter
Source: Kristoffer Trolle, Creative Commons

Source: Kristoffer Trolle, Creative Commons

Here’s a clue… YES!

Elizabeth Bernstien, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal wrote a piece titled “But you never said…”  In this column she quotes Dr. Michael Ross, professor emeritus in the psychology department at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada:

People also remember their own actions better. So they can recall what they did, just not what [the other person] did. Researchers call this an egocentric bias, and study it by asking people to recall their contributions to events. Whether the event is positive or negative, people tend to believe that they had more responsibility.

Your mood—both when an event happens and when you recall it later—plays a big part in memory, experts say. If you are in a positive mood or feeling positive about the other person, you will more likely recall a positive experience or give a positive interpretation to a negative experience. Similarly, negative moods tend to reap negative memories.

Negative moods may also cause stronger memories. A person who lost an argument remembers it more clearly than the person who won it, says Dr. Ross.  And how often you recall an incident may affect your memory. It is quite possible to remember your most recent version of the story, not the way it actually happened.

Yes, we are egocentric.  It’s natural and essential in many cases.  But, if we tend to remember what we said or did more than what anyone else said or did, how do we build a great team solution rather than a narrow egocentric solution?  Dialogue!

Dialogue is a practiced technique that will help you build better solutions to difficult problems.  We each have our own memory and perspective.  It’s important to remember that your view is not “right” it’s just your view.  In dialogue we start by sharing our “beliefs and assumptions” about a situation.  Once we’ve really heard each other than we can start building some common ground rather than simply fighting over who’s view is right thereby making the other views wrong.  Many, many arguments are actually right vs right, not right vs wrong.  Start with that assumption and you’ll begin to build better teams.

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